I write to urge you to support an end to grouse shooting rights on publicly-owned Ilkley Moor when Bradford Council makes its imminent decision on whether or not to renew shooting rights.
It is welcoming to see Bradford Council increasing placing its ethos of progress and humanity at the heart of all it does. With all due respect, the leasing of Ilkley Moor for grouse shooting is letting the region down.
Breeding populations of protected birds have tanked over recent years as a result of grouse shooting and related habitat-damaging management, which has included large areas of the moor being burnt to increase game bird numbers and shooting butts constructed into sensitive blanket bog, freshly emerged conservation records collected by the RSPB show:
- There was just one breeding pair of Merlin (Red Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990. The decline of 86 per cent on Ilkley Moor is disproportionately greater than the 54 per cent decline across the Special Protection Area.
- There was just one breeding pair of Dunlin (Amber Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990.
- There was just two breeding pairs of Redshank (Amber Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990
- There were no breeding Ring Ouzel (Red Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to four breeding pairs in 1990.
- There were no breeding Whinchats (Red Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to four breeding pairs in 1990.
- There were no breeding Twite (Red Listed) on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990.
- Other breeding bird species which form part of a healthy upland habitat, including Hen Harrier, Short-Eared Owl and Raven, are completely absent from Ilkley Moor.
Peak District National Park Authority, Sheffield, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and North Ayrshire Councils have ended grouse shooting on upland estates under their control, having previously licensed the practice. Bradford Council is now the last local authority in the UK to allow grouse shooting on municipal moorland, despite unprecedented support for it to follow these successful examples.
John Grogan, MP for Keighley & Ilkley, has described shooting on the moor as presenting “a conflict of interest” in a statement supporting the cessation of shooting. Henri Murison, Labour Parish Councillor for Ilkley South, commented that “a strong case has been made that shooting on the moor should come to an end.” A cross-party representation of District Councillors, Friends of Ilkley Moor, Chris Packham, Bill Oddie OBE, Nick Miles, Alex Sobel MP and Judith Cummins MP are also among those who have given their backing to stopping grouse shooting on the public moor. During a recent consultation on future management of Ilkley Moor, the largest number of submissions received by the Council on any single topic urged an end to grouse shooting.
With a decision due imminently on whether or not to continue to lease the public moorland for grouse shooting, I would urge you to support not renewing shooting rights on the Council-owned moorland. Please ensure the ongoing grouse shooting season is the last to be allowed on Ilkley Moor.